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Antarctica Packing Tips

Pack Your Bags for Antarctica and Check off Your Last Continent

Jodie Day
by Jodie Day

February 21, 2023

4 minute read

If you’re planning on visiting Antarctica, you’ll need some tips on what to bring and what not to bring. After all, the aptly named “White Continent” is the coldest, driest, windiest, and most remote part of the planet. And as one of the most unpredictable places in the world, being over-prepared is never an issue – especially when there’s a very small chance that you’ll be able to purchase anything whilst you’re there.

This is one adventure you won’t be able to pack for two nights in advance. So, don’t wait. Start packing now… or at least once you’re done reading.

Layers

The more the better when it comes to packing layers. Although you might have the urge to pack your thickest sweaters or warmest sweatshirts, a combination of long sleeves and tee-shirts (thermal and not thermal) is the ideal strategy when it comes to a cruise to Antarctica. Temperatures in the boat’s main rooms or cabins are often warm to compensate for the temperatures outside. When packing your base layers, stay away from materials like cotton as it tends to hold in moisture and cool your body down. Instead, pack wool or a wool blend to keep your body heat regulated.

Whalers Bay

More Layers

Once you pack up your base layers, you’re ready for those mid-layers to come into play. The best material to use as your mid-layer is fleece or a polyester blend. Having multiple thin layers over your thermal base (rather than one thick layer) is more ideal for adjusting to temperature conditions throughout the day. Make sure these layers don’t fit too snug around your base layer to avoid feeling constricted whilst moving.

Petermann Island

Even More Layers

The most important rule for outer layers is to make sure they’re 100% waterproof. This is imperative to your comfort and should not be overlooked whilst you pack. Depending on which expedition ship takes you through the Drake Passage to Antarctica, you may be provided with a parka to keep or borrow. Along with a warm and completely waterproof jacket, you’ll need some pants to match. Insulated, waterproof pants are a must when packing to keep you warm and comfortable outside of the boat.

Penguins

Must Haves

Don’t forget long (and warm) socks, gloves, tight-fitted beanies, or tall waterproof boots if you’re not planning on renting gear during your trip. It’s also important to have a neck gaiter to protect yourself from harsh winds whilst spending time on the ship’s deck or exploring on land. Whilst it might not be the first thing that comes to mind, the sun does shine in Antarctica – so sun protection should also be a priority. Another relevant item to check off your packing list is moisturizer – and plenty of it. In dry conditions with heavy winds like these, your skin will thank you.

Almirante Brown

Basics

If you’re prone to seasickness (especially when it comes to crossing the Drake Passage) you’ll want to pack some anti-nausea medication to relieve your discomfort. And if you’re prone to boredom, you might want to pack some entertainment (books, headphones, journal) of your own for those longer portions of the journey. Looking to capture the moment? Make sure you pack your camera and plenty of spare batteries or charging cables. Wet bags and waterproof cases are also helpful depending on how ambitious you become during exploration time.

Port Lockroy

Quick Pack Recap List:

  • Base layers
    • Thermal long sleeves (wool)
    • Short sleeve shirts
    • Long johns
    • Polyester base gloves
  • Mid-layers
    • Poly blend material
    • Fleece material
  • Outer layers
    • 100% waterproof jacket/parka
    • 100% waterproof pants
    • 100% waterproof gloves
  • Muck boots/tall waterproof boots
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Tight-fitting beanie
  • Neck gaiter
  • Long/warm socks
  • Sunscreen/protection
  • Skin moisturizer/lotion
  • Seasickness medication
  • Entertainment
  • Camera/phone
    • Batteries/charging cables
    • SD cards
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Waterproof bags/cases
  • Garbage bags and zip lock bags
  • Ear plugs

Although people often assume that Antarctica’s weather forecast is always freezing (literally), “The White Continent” does have its warm months. The best time to visit Antarctica is during January/February at peak summer season. With temperatures averaging a whopping 35-degrees F, travellers don’t have to adventure in negative temperatures and you get full days to explore since the sun never sets during this time of year.

Journey to Antarctica: The White Continent

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